Blue Ridge Scholar is Harvard Bound

Mon Apr 16, 2018 at 10:07 AM

Sarai Perez Camacho

See if this sounds familiar. Graduate with an associate’s degree from Blue Ridge Community College in May, receive a high school diploma from Harrisonburg High in June, and begin packing belongings for a late summer trek to Massachusetts to matriculate at Harvard University. Well, that’s exactly what the next few months hold for Sarai Perez Camacho.

“When I was younger, I was obsessed with reading, carrying books with me everywhere,” says Sarai. “Reading was like getting transported to different dimensions of reality, and it caused me to love learning later on in life.”

Sarai participated in the Blue Ridge Scholars program, a cooperative effort between BRCC and Harrisonburg High School, in which selected high-achieving students can earn both a high school diploma and an Associate’s Degree in College Transfer simultaneously. Students attend college classes on campus in the morning and return to their high school in the afternoon.

After narrowing down a list of 20, Sarai applied to eight and received acceptance letters from seven prestigious colleges (she got in to Yale, too!) but Harvard won the day. She plans to study biomedical engineering to pursue a career designing prosthetics. Having three older brothers in the military and having contact with wounded veterans helped set her on this path.

“I really enjoy software design because I see that as the future of prosthetics, and being able to study how to move machines with the mind,” the 18-year-old says.

Sarai’s parents are deservedly proud, and her older siblings (all eight of them!) are thrilled with their baby sister’s achievements, but their good-natured teasing is keeping her humble. Sarai looks forward to attending an admitted-students’ weekend soon, and is excited to choose from three different orientations for new students in August.

“There is one for first-generation students, one to be part of the dorm crew, and another to work in an urban outreach program,” she notes. “They all sound great!”

Having always lived in Harrisonburg, Sarai anticipates some “wow” moments when she gets to Harvard’s ivy-covered campus.

“I’m excited to be exposed to a whole new world, but it’s kind of scary, too.”